Friday, February 28, 2014

Reloading Ammunition

Our whole reloading operation hard at work

This is my first experience with reloading ammunition.

My friend Ezra invited me to a Two-Day Defensive Handgun Course at the Front Sight firearm training facility, in Nevada.  The training course was an incredible learning experience.  While we were at the hotel, in the evening, Ezra taught me how to reload ammunition.  (note: Front Sight does not allow the use of reloaded ammunition)

Due to the rising costs of ammunition, I continue to hear of more and more people reloading, just to keep target practice costs reasonable.  This is even more appealing when your particular caliber cannot be found on any shelves, due to stock shortages.

Reloading is bit of a long process, but kind of cathartic.  Having multiple people working on the parallel tasks significantly reduces total completion time.

There is an upfront cost.  The reloading kits run in the several hundred dollar range.  As mentioned before, having several people work in parallel greatly reduces the completion time.  So, the recommendation is to buy the kit as a family or group of friends, and have occasional reloading parties.  As the reloading kit is used, the cost is quickly recouped.

How cheap is reloading?  Well, if you collect your used brass, and can get a supply of free lead (think used tire weights from an auto shop), then it can be as cheap as a few pennies for each round.  Last time I checked, the cheapest I could get a box of 100 x 9mm rounds at Walmart was for around $30.  That is 30 cents per round.  You can then make up the cost of the kit by just reloading a couple thousand rounds.  Reloading can almost bring the cost of practice firing a your handgun/rifle to the level of a .22.

I tried to take as many photos as I could, but I apologize, there are some stages that I missed.  I inserted Google images (as noted) when needed

So what is involved?  First, some terminology.

Ammunition Terminology

Ammunition Cartridge (thanks Wikipedia)
Cartridge - The combination of the bullet (1), case/shell (2), powder (3), rim (4) and primer (5)

Caliber - Measure of the diameter of the bullet being fired.  (technically Caliber is the measure of the internal diameter of the barrel)

Bullet (1) - The metal projectile.  The diameter is measured in "Caliber" and weight measured in "grains".  Commonly lead, copper or steel.  For reloading we will use lead.

Case/Shell (2) - The casing that holds the bullet. Commonly brass or steel.  For reloading we will use brass casings.

Powder (3) - The propellant used to propel the bullet forward.  For reloading, we will use "smokeless powder".

Rim (4) - The rim allows the extractor to grab and eject the spent cartridge.

Primer (5) - The primary explosive that the firing pin will hit to ignite the powder.

Step #1 - Melting Lead and Making Bullets

If you buy your bullets, then this step can be skipped.

If you can get access to free lead (think used tire weights), this step does save quite a bit of money.  This step unfortunately also happens to take the most time.

Whether you have a brick of lead or used tire weights, the first step is to melt the lead and pour it into a mold.  We used a Butane gas stove and a cast iron pouring pot as the crucible (a container that can withstand high temperatures for melting other items).  Once the lead is sufficiently melted, it is poured into a bullet mold, trimmed and dumped into water to cool off.  (warning: lead fumes are not good for you, so do this outside with appropriate protection)

The cast iron crucible we used
Butane / Isobutate / Propane Gas Stove
Bullet mold (thanks Google Images)

A visual inspection is done to remove any failed bullets.  The bullets are then run through a bullet die to ensure proper sizing.

A file and pliers is then used to remove any burrs. The bullets are finally dumped into a zip lock bag, with some lubricant.

The collection of bullets is growing
Our finished bullets

Step #2 - Casing / Shells

If you buy your casings this step can be skipped.

You have been collecting your spent brass, right?  If not, you should start.  Your spent brass is what will supply this portion of the process.  This is the second longest portion of the reloading process.

Clean up the shells, and remove any shells that have un-struck or funny looking primers.  We will be removing the old primers, so you don't want any that may explode in your hands.

Place the shells in the first sizing die (neck expanding die).  The first sizing die will expand and shape (round) the shell and punch out the old spent primer.

Oil and place the shell in the second sizing die (sizing die).  The second sizing die will reduce the shells to the correct diameter.

Sizing Die (thanks Google Images)

Re-sized shells
Lubricated and finished shells

Step #3 - Primer

Next, a new primer will be added to the re-sized shells.  This step is fairly quick.  A hand primer tool can push through the hundred shells in a matter of minutes.

Hand primer tool (thanks Google Images)
Finished shells with new primer (see left shell)

Step #4 - Powder

Next we need to insert the proper amount of powder into the shell.  Using scales, and a reference table, the powder measure tool is adjusted to dispense the appropriate amount of powder.

Powder measure tool

Step #5 - Bullet Seating (Final Step)

Finally we need to seat the bullet into the shell and using the bullet seating die we crimp the shell to the bullet.

Seating Die (thanks Google Images)
Before storing your completed cartridges, they should have one final thin spray of lubrication.

Rinse and Repeat

Now we are ready to take these fine pieces of workmanship out to the range and begin this whole process again from square one.  Let the cycle continue.

Additional Information

Saturday, February 22, 2014

SubRip Subtitles Time Adjustment Tool

I have been working on updating my Plex movie database with SubRip Subtitle (.srt) files from One of the subtitle files I downloaded had the timing off from the voices. Very distracting. - the biggest open subtitles database -
So I wrote up a Python script to adjust the timings of the .srt file and posted it to GitHub. You pass the movie .srt file and the time shift, and it outputs the modified subtitle file.
git clone

python srtshift/ 2.5 >

# play movie and check subtitle timing, the commit the change with

SubRip Subtitles

SubRip is a "software program for Windows which "rips" (extracts) subtitles and their timings from video.  SubRip is also the name of the widely used and broadly compatible subtitle text file format created by this software."

SubRip files are named with an extension .srt.


SubRip files are formatted with:
  1. A numeric counter identifying each sequential subtitle
  2. The time that the subtitle should appear on the screen, followed by --> and the time it should disappear
  3. Subtitle text itself on one or more lines
  4. A blank line containing no text, indicating the end of this subtitle


00:00:10,500 --> 00:00:13,000
Elephant's Dream

00:00:15,000 --> 00:00:18,000
At the left we can see...


The SubRip subtitle files can be downloaded online from a variety of sites.  My personal favorites are:


To have Plex Media Server work with SubRip (.srt) files, simply name the srt file the same as the movie file name with a '' (for English) extension.  Plex will automatically pick up the Subtitle file on the next Library refresh.

For example:


If you can't find the subtitle file online, and you have the DVD, the SubRip Windows software can actually extract the subtitles from the DVD.  Unlike Closed Captions, Subtitles are not stored as text on DVDs, but as bitmap images.  SubRip uses OCR technology to convert the images to text.  This does require work on your part.  As the OCR scanner finds new unrecognized characters it will ask you translate them.

Plex Media Server

Plex Media Server ( "bridges the gap between your computer and your home theater, doing so with a visually appealing user interface that provides instant access to your media."

Plex allows you to play your collection of movies, music and photos from a variety of devices, such as a computer, Smart TV, Roku, cell phones, tablets and others.  Through the online Plex Service you can also share your media collection with friends and family.

Plex has a server download for Windows, Linux and Mac.  I have had the best results (least issues) with the Linux 64bit version.

Plex Installation

Plex is really easy to install.  Plex can be downloaded from

For Windows, you run the simple installer executable.

For Linux, you download the appropriate rpm/deb.  The following example works for Fedora 14 or CentOS 6 (or newer) 64bit

# as the root user...


rpm -Uvh plexmediaserver-

service plexmediaserver restart

To access the Plex web interface visit

To use the online Plex Service you will need to open up port 32400 on your firewall.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bacchus Hwy ATV Trail

ATV trails off of Bacchus Highway (Hwy 111) in West Valley City, Utah
For Presidents day we went off-roading, with the motorcycle, on the ATV trails just off Bacchus Highway.

Google Maps - Satellite View

GPS Location:  (Google Maps Satellite View)
40°37'45.6"N 112°03'07.3"W
40.629322, -112.052030

Saturday, February 8, 2014



Check out this cool technology.   The Solowheel, the little sister of the Segway.

"The Solowheel electric unicycle from Inventist has a top speed of 12mph, a range of 12 miles on one charge and to move off, a user puts both feet on the platforms on either side of the wheel housing and leans forward."

One could pick one up for under $2,000.  $1,995 on amazon, if they were in stock.  $900 for the Chinese knockoff version.  Compared to the $8,000 for a Segway, this is comparably affordable.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

8000 year registration

We must have won the car registration lottery.  Our registration expires in 8,000 years?

Microsoft names Satya Nadella its next CEO

Satya Nadella - Microsoft's next CEO
"Microsoft has named Satya Nadella, an executive in charge of the company's small but growing business of delivering software and services over the Internet, as its new CEO. Company founder Bill Gates is leaving the chairman role for a new role as technology adviser.

The software company announced Tuesday that Nadella will replace Steve Ballmer, who said in August that he would leave the company within 12 months. Nadella will become only the third leader in the software giant's 38-year history, after Gates and Ballmer. Board member John Thompson will serve as Microsoft's new chairman.

Born in Hyderabad, India in 1967, Nadella received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and a master's of business administration from the University of Chicago."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Facebook Look Back Video

Personalized "Look Back" Facebook Video
A Look Back - Highlights from your years on Facebook -

In celebration of Facebook's 10th anniversary (Feb 3rd), Facebook put together a personalized "'Look Back' compilation containing around 15 of a user's most-likes photos, statuses, and life events set to a catchy tune.".  See your own "Look Back" video by visiting

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Star Wars Imperial March with Floppy and Arduino


Someone has way too much free time, but I applaud them for their creativity!